Christmas lights reflect off the bonnets of the parked cars, making them shine. It's dark and cold outside, but the heat from the car keeps me warm.
I'm waiting for the lights to change and listening to 21st Century Breakdown (general opinion: tries to hard to be something it isn't, but a good effort nonetheless. 7 out of 10 could do better). Despite the fact that it's nearly Christmas there's almost nobody about.
I'm only half-listening to the music: thinking about the giant holding cell that has become my life for the last 6 weeks. No change that - for the last year since we got the news about the end of the contract. Since that my ever increasing phrase of the day has been "When I know for sure about my job I'll..."
What? Go on a cruise? Get all the stuff sorted in my house? Study for a degree? There's so much I want to do and none of it seems to get any nearer.
Sometimes in life you can find yourself permanently waiting for that traffic light to change - for that opportunity to arrive. Truth is that I should get out there and make it happen: but I probably never will.
So what's been good about the past six weeks? Well I wrote a novel. It felt good to do something creative, to put something out there again. For so long I've been holding myself back because I'd lost my belief in my ability - you must know how it feels: you work long and hard on something and when its done a few people may look at it and grunt before it gets put in a box, but that's it...I mean what's the point? The very purpose of a novel is to be read, and a painting must be displayed.
So what's the point of me?
The lights change and I drive to the school where my partner is teaching. There's still ten minutes before the end of her class, so I look at the artwork on the walls and decide that some of it is just too damned good. There's a wall just outside the classroom where they've put up a picture of all the teachers in the school and I scan down it, noticing a few blank spaces where no picture has been supplied.
Being me I decide that the teachers involved were Invisible and spend a few minutes wondering how one puts that on one's application form and whether invisibility is covered in equal opportunities legislation. I think back to my own school days: I guess I was just average - which is the worst thing to be at school. If you're smart you stand out and all the teachers want you in their class so that they look good - if you're stupid and mess about then everyone knows you and you get all the attention in the world. If you're average you either get told how stupid and useles you are or you just slip through the cracks, unnoticed
But as I reach the bottom layer of the pictures I see a familiar face - it's one of the Art teachers who taught me when I was a kid: still going strong. Not the teacher who couldn't be bothered to enter me for my exams because of the paperwork, not the one that was only interested in his A level students: the other one.
The one who I only had for about one term.
The one who didn't care how good or bad you were as long as you tried and expressed yourself.
Maybe he was right: maybe the important thing is just to try...and maybe you might succeed along the way?